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A voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO is an electronic oscillator specifically designed

to be controlled in oscillation frequency by a voltage input. It is an oscillator device in
which output frequency is proportional to modulating voltage. The voltage-controlled
oscillator circuit produces an ac waveform whose frequency is dependent on the
magnitude of a dc input voltage. When given a sine wave input, both a triangular
waveform and a square waveform will be produced. These waveforms can be further
used in many electronics applications.

Components of the circuit:

The circuit comprises of following basic components.

 Schmitt trigger
 CMOS SPDT( Single pole double throw) switch
 Buffer
 Integrator

Schmitt trigger:

A Schmitt trigger has one input voltage and one output voltage. The output can be either
high or low. When the input is below a certain threshold, the output is high; when the
input is above a certain (higher) threshold, the output is low; and when the input is
between the two thresholds, the output retains its value. The trigger is so named because
the output retains its value until the input changes sufficiently to trigger a change. This
delayed action is called hysteresis, and implies that the Schmitt trigger has some

Schmitt trigger
CMOS SPDT switch:

This switch provides low power dissipation yet gives high switching speed, low on
resistance, low leakage currents and -3 dB bandwidths of greater than 200 MHz can be
achieved. The main specifications for a CMOS SPDT switch are given as follows.

Switch Type SPDT

# Channels 1
Ron 2.5Ohms
Id, Is (ON) 10pA
Bandwidth 200MHz
T ON 7ns
t OFF 3ns

Supply Voltage Single (+3V), Single (+5V)

Power Dissipation (Max) 5µW


An integrator is a device to perform the mathematical operation known as integration,

i.e. it integrates the (inverted) signal over time.

(Where Vin and Vout are functions of time, Vinitial is the output voltage of the integrator at
time t = 0.)

A Buffer amplifier (sometimes simply called a buffer) is one that provides impedance
transformation from high to low between one circuit and another.

Typically a buffer amplifier is used to transfer a voltage from a first circuit, having a high
impedance level, to a second circuit with a lower impedance level. The interposed buffer
amplifier prevents the second circuit from loading the first circuit unacceptably and
interfering with its desired operation.

If the voltage is transferred unchanged, the amplifier is a unity gain buffer; also known
as a voltage follower.

Unity Gain Buffer Amplifier

Input and Output(s) of the circuit:

 The input to the circuit is a sine wave which is given to the Schmitt trigger.

 The outputs of the circuit are

• Triangular waveform (obtained at the output of Schmitt

• Square waveform (obtained at the output of Integrator )


VCO’s are used in:

 Function generators
 The production of electronic music, to generate variable tones,
 Phase-locked loops
 Frequency synthesizers used in communication equipment.
 Converting low frequency signals such as electrocardiograms (EKG) and
electroencephalograms (EEG) into an audio- frequency range.